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President Obama: Moving Forward and Leaving a Legacy

Photo via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

Photo via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

President Obama’s Legacy

Every president leaves behind a legacy and becomes part of the classroom history lessons and discussions for future generations.

In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States. He arrived during a time of anger and brewing uncertainty in the U.S. His campaign slogans ranged from Hope and Yes We Can! in 2008 to Forward in 2012. Did his accomplishments live up to his campaign promises? Only time will tell how historians will view the Obama presidency and whether he indeed brought hope and a positive impact on the country he served.

In the meantime, students can study the impact of the Obama administration by evaluating his impact in key areas: the economy, health care, environment, culture, and education.

The Economy

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he entered a country in the midst of a global financial crisis that lasted from 2007-2009 with lingering after-effects. Jobs were lost and big banks were in trouble. Some economists argued the financial crisis was the worst one since the 1930s Great Depression. Under President Obama, “15 million private sector jobs” were added as of August 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This period of job growth, a total of 77 months thus far, is a record for the United States. Legislation has also been put into place that helps the middle class and low-income families while stimulating financial growth.

 

Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted by President Obama on March 23, 2010. While it has received much criticism, there have been some clear benefits to this statute. The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurers from denying or charging more for coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions could be diabetes, cancer or a range of others. Read more about pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act here. Also, this law has made it possible for many more people to get health insurance. Only non-citizens and people who are incarcerated can be denied health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Some critics have argued against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act due to its high premiums and tax penalties.

Environment and Culture

An area of differentiation in President Obama’s second presidential term compared with his first has been his tireless use of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Obama has repeatedly used the Antiquities Act to preserve ecological areas and protect cultural as well as historical sites. You can read more about these accomplishments here in a 2015 Washington Post article.

“Obama has established or expanded 19 national monuments for a total of more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters, more than any previous president.” — Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

Also, President Obama has emphasized the importance of acknowledging and addressing climate change. His Action Plan for protecting the planet offers insight into the effects extreme weather is having on the world. His plan also targets ways to limit carbon pollution, which is vital to the planet’s future.

Education

A major misconception about the widely discussed education initiative known as the Common Core State Standards is that it was led by the Obama administration, but this is not so. While Obama supports this initiative it was actually led by U.S. states, many of which opted to adopt these standards on their own. More about the Common Core State Standards can be read here. Some of President Obama’s education initiatives have been:

  1. Race to the Top: Encouraging states to spur education reform so that teachers and students can succeed.
  2. Reforming No Child Left Behind: Intended to close the achievement gap and bring education standards up-to-date.
  3. Redesign Initiative: An initiative designed to improve high schools and incorporate college-level coursework as well as career-related experiences/competencies into daily education.
  4. Funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Providing states and school districts with emergency funding needed to keep more teachers in the classroom.
  5. ConnectED Initiative: This initiative aims to bring the best technology and training to students and classrooms.

What is the Obama legacy? 

Your students can research and gather the evidence themselves. Point them to SIRS Knowledge Source for a wealth of information on the past eight years of the Obama administration.